November 20, 2020

Understanding Democracy, One Ingredient at a Time

In Poland, a game called Democracy Cake has provided young children an interactive opportunity to delve into values and ideas that make up the core of democracy.

At schools where educators are coming up with new methods to encourage civic participation, one program in Poland has taken a unique approach, implementing an educational board game that can be used universally to engage children around the core values of democracy.

Developed by IVLP alumna Natalia Kertyczak, Democracy Cake – Recipe for Democracy was designed to build upon existing elementary school curriculums to educate children on the building blocks of democracy and how it has shaped our society. Through a series of interactive games and sessions, children gradually unveil the core values that make up our democratic processes and understand for themselves the fundamental role democracy plays in society.

In the game, children have the opportunity to engage with democratic principles and learn skills needed to succeed in school and beyond. Participants gather the ingredients that are inherent in democracy, piecing these elements together to create a “democracy pie.” All components must be placed in chronological order, and must be discussed and agreed upon by the team.

The game itself requires constant collaboration and communication, and all decisions around the pie-building are made in the space together. The main goal of the game is to collectively build a democratic state in a society, which turns into a pie in the game environment through collectively “mixing” and “baking” different ingredients until the pie is wholly complete.

As the game has set out to teach children through hands-on, interactive education, Democracy Cake has made a difference in the lives of children by inspiring curiosity through creative, purposeful play. Funding for Democracy Cake comes from the U.S. Department of State, as part of a 2019 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) project grant. The project encourages civic participation among youth in Poland and Ukraine via the “Democracy Cake” board game, with teachers submitting civic education lesson plans for a chance to win copies of the board game for their students.

Currently, 250 copies of the game have been published in Ukraine, which will be distributed to public organizations, school teachers, and human rights coaches. The team aims to expand its audience by reaching 50,000 beneficiaries and distributing 1,000 copies of the game to 250 institutions in each country, ultimately serving more children and instilling in them the confidence needed to succeed in their own communities.